Living After Gallbladder Removal

Living After Gallbladder Removal

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac located below the liver (on the right side of the abdomen) which contains approximately a half cup of yellowish-greenish fluid called gallbladder bile. The bile originates in the liver before moving into the gallbladder, where the bile becomes 4-12 times more concentrated. The healthy, functioning gallbladder then acts as a storage reservoir for concentrated bile before it moves into the duodenum (small intestine).

The main function of bile is to assist the body in digesting fats by dividing the fats into thin droplets. It helps pancreatic enzymes split the fats into small particles that can pass through the walls of the intestines.

When the semi-digested food exits the stomach and moves into the small intestine the gallbladder contracts causing the concentrated bile to move through the bile ducts into the small intestine. Once the gallbladder is removed liquid liver bile flows out constantly from the common bile duct straight into the small intestine instead of being stored in the gallbladder. This low quality liquid liver bile that constantly flows into the duodenum cannot properly digest the fats, causing fat intolerance and diarrhea in some people.

Bile is instrumental in removing dangerous toxins such as bile pigments, bile acids, cholesterol and heavy metals. The antimicrobial property of concentrated gallbladder bile assists in keeping the small intestine from dangerous invaders such as bad bacteria, parasites, and yeasts. Consequently, absence of the gallbladder leads to Candida-yeast and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) which can create gas and indigestion.

Healthy alkaline bile neutralizes the semi-digested acidic food from the stomach therefore creating the proper alkaline milieu in the small intestine for pancreatic enzymes to work. It is well known that pancreatic enzymes require an alkaline condition in the duodenum to digest consumed food. When the gallbladder bile is not alkaline, indigested foods in the small intestine are fermented causing gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, and uncomfortable visits to the bathroom.

The gallbladder acts as a buffer reservoir to prevent the backup of bile and to prevent high pressure in the bile and pancreatic ducts. This high pressure expands the common bile duct causing pain. Enlargement of the common bile duct is a common finding after gallbladder removal. When there is no gallbladder, the increasing pressure inside the pancreatic duct can cause activation of the pancreatic enzymes inside the pancreas and as a consequence, inflammation of the pancreas can develop.

The liver, gallbladder, pancreas, duodenum, bile ducts, and muscles valves work together due to the perfect regulation of the body. Doctors and researchers have found that cutting the nerve branches surrounding the gallbladder can disrupt the proper work of the Sphincter of Oddi – the valve between the bile and pancreatic ducts and the duodenum. Almost 20% of patients after gallbladder surgery suffer from Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. Spasm of this strategic valve leads to backup of the bile and pancreatic juices with resultant pain, nausea, and possible development of pancreatitis.

Concentrated gallbladder bile is necessary for intestinal motility, digestion and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. The lack of gallbladder bile creates less peristaltic movement which makes people prone to constipation.

The main reasons for gallbladder surgery are inflammation and/or gallbladder stones. Removal of the gallbladder does not stop the production of stones and inflammation of the bile ducts. Therefore, inflammation and collection of the stones, both in the liver and in the bile ducts, can be often observed in people without a gallbladder.

Although loss of these functions of the gallbladder is not life threatening, removal of the gallbladder can cause many unpleasant symptoms. For some people life after gallbladder removal is a miserable existence. This condition is called post-cholecystectomy syndrome. The term post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS) describes the presence of symptoms after cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery).

What can be done to decrease the consequences and symptoms of post-cholecystectomy syndrome?

Many drug-free and non-surgical healing techniques can alleviate many of these uncomfortable symptoms. Some of them have been widely used for a hundred years all over the globe.

A healing diet is one of the oldest, cheapest, safest and most effective medicines in the world.

Dietary changes are vitally important for a person suffering from post-operative digestive problems.

In a healthy, functioning body the gallbladder, pancreas, bile and pancreatic juices are naturally alkaline. Whole body acidity is one of the main causes of liver, gallbladder and pancreas malfunction. Acidity causes biochemical changes in the bile that makes it corrosively irritating to the bile ducts, sphincter of Oddi and the small intestine. Aggressive acidic liver bile irritates surrounding tissues, causes jerky contractions and refluxes. This aggressive mix of the acidic bile and pancreatic juices regurgitates into the stomach and esophagus and/or causes spasms of the sphincter of Oddi. This can be the cause of the heartburn, nausea and upper abdominal pain often experienced after gallbladder surgery.

An alkaline diet involves eating mostly alkaline-based foods and avoiding acid-forming foods such as sugars, red meat, sodas, dairy products, white flour, white rice, alcohol, etc. A separate diet requires eating only one kind of food at one time. Mixing foods such as salad, soup, entree, dessert, sodas and alcohol together in one meal, like people usually do, causes a huge strain on the digestive system. When people without gallbladders (who don’t have the presence of good quality bile) continue to eat this way, many symptoms of indigestion such as abdominal pain, nausea, belching, gas, heartburn, diarrhea and/or constipation occur.

Typically, people without a gallbladder have two problems: one is Candida-yeast overgrowth, another is food sensitivity. An elimination diet and anti-Candida diet can be very beneficial for these conditions.

In simple chemistry it is known that to neutralize acidity the body needs plenty of minerals and bicarbonates. Unfortunately, food today contains very little of these vital nutrients, so supplementation is a practical way to get them. The easy way to get minerals and bicarbonates is by drinking healing mineral water.

Doctors from Europe have used healing mineral water for hundreds of years. There are many mineral health spas in Germany, Austria, France, Eastern Europe and Russia. Thousands of people travel to these spas for cleansing, rejuvenating and healing procedures. The most researched mineral water with 500 years of use is Karlovy Vary thermal spring water in the Czech Republic. It is difficult to believe that the first medical book referencing the use of this water in digestive problems was written in 1522. From that time, many medical articles, books, and dissertations have described the healing actions of Karlovy Vary healing water mineral for many digestive and metabolic disorders including post-cholecystectomy syndrome. Millions of Europeans have drunk healing mineral water prepared from vaporized genuine Karlovy Vary thermal spring salt at home for more than 250 years.

According to European doctors this mineral water promotes the production and speedy transit of bile, makes it more alkaline and improves the function of the pancreas. All of these actions are beneficial for people without a gallbladder to improve digestion and decrease the symptoms of post-cholecystectomy syndrome.

Cellular magnesium-potassium, another alkalizing agent, also can decrease acidity in the body.

How can we know if our body is acidic or alkaline? Checking saliva and urine pH by litmus paper is the easy and inexpensive way to verify body acidity. If saliva and urine pH are frequently less than 6.6 it can be a warning sign of total body acidity.

Drinking herbal tea can alleviate spasms, gas, heartburn, and indigestion. A knowledgeable herbalist can customize herbal remedies for many conditions. Some formulas from European and Chinese herbal medicines can lessen the amount of stones in the bile ducts, make the liver bile liquid and less aggressive, and decrease spasms and pains.

Persons with post-cholecystectomy syndrome can decrease many unpleasant symptoms by using herbal formulas. They are not a quick fix, but in the long run, herbs are safe and effective remedies.

Some people who have had gallbladder surgery lose the proper interaction between the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, duodenum, and stomach. To normalize this teamwork, one can be treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture is the oldest healing method for digestive disorders. Many medical papers have been published during the last decades that confirm the positive action of acupuncture in the treatment of post-cholecystectomy syndrome. Another positive result of acupuncture is that it can help cure alcohol and pain medication addiction.

Medical science has not yet developed a surgical technique to replace the gallbladder once it has been removed. We can, however, control the terrible symptoms of post-cholecystectomy syndrome by employing various drug-free and non-surgical healing methods. These methods are safe, effective, and relatively cheap and can be used in conjunction with modern medicine.

The information in this article is presented for educational, informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment and advice of a qualified licensed professional.

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